Summary: In the parables, we see the condition or state of those away from God. We observe God’s great love and anxiety for sinners. We get a glimpse of heaven scene upon the restoration of a soul.
Introduction: Great crowds of outsiders came to listen to Christ. These were men and women who through their family associations, their occupations, their social status, or their life styles were looked down upon with immense contempt by the more rigid and sanctimonious Scribes and Pharisees. Having been scorned by the religious crowd as hopelessly lost, these outsiders found that while Christ’s teaching never excused or made allowance for their sin in any form, His message intensely empathetic and loving was full of hope for the hopeless. The religious teachers of Israel were indignant and enraged at Christ’s acceptance and apparent preference for these "sinners". In answer to their grumbling and moaning Christ presents three parables as vindication of His actions. The three parables demonstrate a number of truths that we should all take note of. In these parables, we see the condition or state of those away from God. We observe God’s great love and anxiety for sinners. We get a glimpse of heaven scene upon the restoration of a soul.
I. The Parable of the Lost Sheep (verses 4-7)
A. The sheep was lost - apollumi - to perish, destroy, to lose, to be cut off.
B. The sheep was lost in the wilderness, with no protection, in danger(vs. 4)
1. While the wilderness might hold out enticements of greener pastures or lush vegetation, but a wilderness is a dangerous place, unlike a fenced pasture. There are many uncertainties in the wilderness. There is no security, only danger.
2. The wilderness is a picture of the world, with its allurements and dangers. Just as the wilderness held fascination to an aimless and straying sheep with its superficially greener pastures, the world allures the sinner with the excitement and pleasures
3. Every temptation that comes to us is packaged as a good.
4. Tacitus - Things forbidden have a secret charm.
5. As the wandering sheep does not realize its situation and continues on until it is caught either in the deep ravines and crevices among the jagged rocks or in the in the thick underbrush and pricking thorns which will eventually suck its very life out, so man wanders in the wilderness of sin oblivious to the peril and ultimate destruction that will befall him.
6. Isaiah 53:6, "All we like sheep have gone astray. We have turned, every one, to his own way; and the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all."
7. Most of us are familiar with the old story of how to boil a frog. You don’t put him in a pot of boiling water. You drop him in the boiling water and he’ll jump out before he’s injured. So you put him in a pot of cold water, and he’s perfectly comfortable. Then you put him on the stove, and little by little the water gets warm. It’s very pleasant at first. Then it gets to Jacuzzi level, and he begins to be a little alarmed. Finally, when it’s boiling, it’s too late. So often we are like that frog. We get enticed by the world and it’s oh so pleasant at first. And then it gets a little warmer and it’s pleasanter yet. And then one day we realize the danger: But it is too late.
C. The sheep was sought by the Shepherd (vs. 4)
1. The Shepherd saw the value of one sheep and went after it. He was gripped with concern for it. He could have said, "It is only one and I have 99 others. I don’t need to go looking for it." But he didn’t he loved his sheep.
2. John 3:16 "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believesin him should not perish, but have everlasting life."
3. Luke 19:10 "For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost."
4. The late venerable and godly Dr. Archibald Alexander of Princeton had been a preacher of Christ for sixty years and a professor of divinity for forty. On his deathbed he was heard to say to a friend, "All my theology is reduced to this narrow compass-Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners."
D. The sheep once found brought joy (vs. 5-7)
1. The shepherd called his neighbors together. He wanted everyone to know that the lost sheep had been found.
2. Ring the bells of heaven!
There is joy today,
For a soul returning from the wild!
3. Converted souls are strings in the concert of God’s joy.
II. The Parable of the Lost Coin (verses 8-10)
A. The coin was lost (vs. 8)
1. The coin referred to here is a small silver piece worth, in our money, about 16 cents. The woman had ten of these, so the total value of her wealth was $1.60. That is not very much, but it was more than simply some money to this woman because it had great sentimental value. We learn from those who have studied the customs of ancient days that this was part of her dowry. When a woman married, she took money that she had accumulated throughout her life and sewed it into a headdress, which she wore on her wedding day. She used ten silver coins -- which is why our Lord picked this number to illustrate the story. Therefore, these ten coins were of tremendous significance to her as a woman. They symbolized her dowry. They represented not just the value of the money, but all that she had to contribute to the marriage. This headdress was of such value to the women of that time that, by law, it was impossible for it to be taken from them -- even to pay a debt.